WHO classifies India's coronavirus variants as "variants of global concern"

Covid-19 situation in India ‘beyond heartbreaking’: WHO chief


Geneva: The head of the World Health Organization on Monday expressed shock at the record wave of Covid-19 cases and deaths in India, saying that the organization is eager to help resolve the crisis.

“The situation in India is beyond heartbreaking,” Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus told reporters. His comments came as India battles a catastrophic coronavirus wave that has overwhelmed hospitals and crematoriums working at full capacity.

A surge in recent days has seen patients  families taking to social media to beg for oxygen supplies and locations of available hospital beds, and has forced the capital New Delhi to extend a week-long lockdown.

“WHO is doing everything we can, providing critical equipment and supplies,” Tedros said.

He said the UN health agency was among other things sending “thousands of oxygen concentrators, prefabricated mobile field hospitals and laboratory supplies.”

The WHO also stated that it has transferred more than 2,600 experts from various programs such as polio and tuberculosis to cooperate with Indian health authorities to help respond to the pandemic.

The US$1.3 billion country has become the latest hot spot of the pandemic, killing 3 million people worldwide, although wealthier countries have taken a step towards normalization by accelerating vaccination programs.

The United States and the United Kingdom rushed to purchase ventilators and vaccine materials to help India weather this devastating crisis, and many other countries also pledged to provide support.

According to official statistics compiled by Agence France-Presse (AFP), since the virus that caused Covid-19 first appeared in China at the end of 2019, the disease has killed 3.1 million of at least 147 million infected people.

On Monday, Tedros regretted that the number of new cases around the world had been increasing for the past nine weeks.

“To put it in perspective,” he said, “there were almost as many cases globally last week as in the first five months of the pandemic.”

The United States remains the worst-affected country, with some 572,200 deaths and over 32 million infections, followed by Brazil and Mexico.

But India, in fourth place, has in recent days been driving the global case numbers.

The country, which has recorded over 195,000 deaths, registered 2,812 new deaths and 352,991 new infections on Monday alone — its highest tolls since the start of the pandemic.

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